Cheddar and Ale Soup with Potato & Bacon
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 medium onion, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 medium carrot, minced
1 small stalk celery, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ cups (one 12-ounce bottle) light-colored ale
1 cup chicken stock
2½ cups half-and-half
1 bay leaf
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dry sherry
12 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1. Fry the bacon in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
2. Add the onion and shallot to the pot containing the bacon drippings and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the potato, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring to coat the vegetables, until the mixture begins to brown on the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes.
3. Gradually whisk in the ale, chicken stock, and half-and-half. Add the bay leaf and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables soften, about 3 minutes.
4. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the cayenne and sherry and allow to cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the cheese and thyme until the cheese melts. Stir in the fried bacon, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.
(Recipe adapted from The Best Soups and Stews)